Chinese authorities have arrested the coadjutor bishop of Wenzhou, reportedly to stop him taking over the diocese after the death of Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang.

AsiaNews, the Rome-based missionary news agency, said police took Coadjutor Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin out of the diocese in early September. Under canon law, a coadjutor takes over the diocese when the bishop retires or dies.

AsiaNews reported that Bishop Shao was taken to northwest China “on a trip”. The diocesan chancellor, Fr Paul Jian Sunian, was escorted by police to Yunnan, and another priest was held in a hotel.

The news agency said the government was opposed to Bishop Shao because, although his appointment was recognised by the Vatican, it had not received government approval.

Chinese police were expected to restrict the number of people at Bishop Zhu’s funeral this week to 400 and said mourners had to receive a permit to attend.

About 120,000 Catholics live in the Wenzhou area. For years, some practised clandestinely, while others had leaders who registered with the government.

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